Monthly Archives: July 2012

Summer Challenge: Lessons Learned Part I

I have four more workouts on my plate before I can officially claim completion of my Summer Push Challenge. My goal was to do the 90 day program (TurboFire) which required workouts 6 days a week.

It was a major change from what I was doing before which almost never included an intense workout on the weekends. Now that I only have 4 more workouts to complete – I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned during this experience and what I’ll take with me into my next challenge, whatever that may be.

I hear a lot of people say that pushing yourself is more mental than physical. I often think we don’t give our bodies enough credit -we are built to last. We are built to run, jump, swim, lift heavy things. Yet, we don’t do a lot of these things on a regular basis – so our bodies aren’t conditioned for their true nature. So getting BACK to my bodies original purpose has been a major fight for me over the last few years. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

We battle with making better food choices, trying to push our bodies to endure long workouts, build muscle, lose fat. Do more. Do more. Do more. It’s pretty exhausting.

Lesson #1: Decreased Recovery Time Continue reading

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View from the Hill

A little scenery along the way…

 

I had a great weekend visiting my friend in DC. We did basically the opposite of any sightseeing. The picture you see here was literally taken from the car window as we were driving back from a lunch place down on H street.

I have been to DC a few times before, and we did some of the touristy stuff during that trip – and once was enough for me. So many people!

Instead, we spent the weekend checking out some local bars and restaurants, watching “Once Upon a Time” via Hulu Plus, and waiting for a server to notice us at the restaurant across the street during the 3 times we went there this weekend. It was awesome (well, not the terrible service, but the low key weekend in general!).

Mainly, I just relaxed. It was nice to get away for a weekend and not have chores or any major responsibilities. No schedule and really nothing to keep me from doing whatever/whenever with the exception of my 2 workouts that had to happen during the 3 days I was there.

I realized a few things while I was there:

1) Eating no wheat and therefore very little carbs and drinking wine during happy hour = not good. I was literally in bed by 9pm on Friday night. WINNER! Right?

2) Bringing your water bottle with you on a trip is the best idea ever. I stayed totally hydrated (with the exception of our happy hour bar hopping afternoon). I will be doing this for my next trip for sure.

3) Avoiding grains/wheat wasn’t really that bad, even while eating out over the weekend. I had things like steak and eggs for breakfast, a gluten free turkey meatloaf and broccoli for lunch. The only place that gave me a bit of trouble was a bar – but I just ordered a hamburger and removed the bun. I felt like a lot of places offered potatoes as the side option – so I probably indulged in potatoes a bit more than I should. But – these are a “in moderation” food, so I’ll just lay off them this week.

I drank wine instead of beer (even though they had some wheat beer that I would have loved to try), I woke up and exercised in my friends living room while her cats hid from me in total fear.

When I stepped on the scale this morning so I could assess the damage of “vacation weekend,” my jaw dropped when I didn’t gain any weight. Wow.

So I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for not letting vacation totally derail me from my healthy habits as it normally does. I’m hopeful to see another loss on the scale on Friday (my formal “write it down” weigh in day).

I’m a little tired at work today. My flight was delayed last night several times – and I didn’t end up being home until about 10pm.

In other exciting news – this is WEEK 12 of my Summer Push Series. So I’m embarking on my LAST week of the TurboFire 12 week program. I can’t hardly believe it. The time has flown. It really makes me think about the difference between just DOING something versus thinking about doing something. I’m so glad I made the choice to do my summer challenge…and it led me to yet another challenge in the midst of it. So exciting!

I am excited to share with you my final report over the weekend as I take my 90 day photos and measurements. I know that i FEEL way better, and that is a major takeaway.

I guess it’s time to start thinking about…what next for my work outs?

 

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Trip & Tip

Tonight I’m flying out to our nation’s capital to see one of my very best friends. I am so excited to see her because it’s been too long. Plus, it will be fun to have a girls weekend because I don’t do that too often (love you hubby!).

I’m gearing up for my first trip since we are doing the Food Challenge. I am just always timing things wrong these days – because I’m still figuring everything out and being out of town for a few days is going to make it even more challenging! But my goal is to be as good as I can be – and avoid wheat and processed ingredients.

Since I’m going to be without my scale (no i am NOT packing my scale in my carry on), I decided to weigh in this morning. Now – this is a reflection of 3 days on this new plan. I’m still doing my TurboFire workouts as per usual (2 more weeks until my exercise challenge is COMPLETE!). I also decided to enjoy some wheat products (i.e. homemade mac&cheese & cookies – or 5) this past weekend as I was “saying goodbye” to all that for the next 30 days.

So 3 days of being totally wheat free and avoiding processed ingredients as much as possible! Drum roll please:

I’m down 2.4 pounds.

I’d also like to mention that I’ve had delicious bacon for breakfast every morning along with some scrambled eggs and veggies. I’ve had pork tenderloin and curry dishes for lunch, fajita salads with chicken and filet mignon for dinner. I’ve  been snacking on whole mozzarella cheese and olives as well as raw nuts (cashews & walnuts to be exact) and I’ve enjoyed a square of 85% dark chocolate every night before bedtime.

This doesn’t feel like a diet, really (and it’s not supposed to!). Even though I have to do a bit more “thinking” when it comes to snacks and things to help round out our meals (i.e. the curry dish was tasty but too light – we needed more food!) – I get to enjoy things that I wouldn’t have allowed myself before and that is pretty awesome.

Basically what I’m saying is that any lifestyle that allows me to eat bacon – I’m in. 🙂

I’m pretty impressed with my 3 day results – and I’m looking forward to seeing results on the scale next Friday so i can see what a full 2 weeks of avoiding wheat and non-processed foods can do for me. Granted, I’m just going to put it out there that I’m totally going to drink some wine and probably indulge in those bottomless belini’s I’ve been dreaming about since my last visit to DC – but I think I can make it work.

I’m bringing my work out stuff with me so I can do my 2 workouts that are scheduled for Friday and Saturday (Sunday is my day off). And i’m going to be working out this afternoon before I fly out so I’m staying on track.

As I was driving home yesterday – it dawned on me that I’m really changing for the better. And that I’ve actually developed a habit of working out 6 days a week. How amazing is that? I’m looking forward to feeling like I’ve made it a habit to pay more attention to the quality of foods that I’m eating (hence the ban on non processed junk!) and excited to see these results as I really combine the working out with this new Food Challenge.

Best Tip Ever.

I doubt that I’ll be posting again until next week – but you never know. Until then (here’s the tip!)  stay strong & make one BETTER decision every day for yourself. You just might form a good habit!

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New Appreciation for Flavors

Sad, but necessary.

I know today is only day 3 of my 30 Day Food Challenge, but I think I’m feeling  benefits because I started really weaning myself off of wheat products last week for the most part. I’ll admit that over the weekend (prior to our official start day), I said goodbye to one of my favorite food items in the world: The Chocolate Chip Cookie. It was worth it since one of my good friends made it and home-made cookies are definitely the best.

I’ve noticed this week a subtle change in my palate. For some reason – some flavors just burst through to me now. I feel like I keep telling my husband – WOW this is SO good! Last night we had a fajita chicken salad. It wasn’t anything fancy – we used veggies from our Farmer’s Market trip on Sunday including lettuce, green peppers, onions, & heirloom tomatoes. For a dressing we bought a Salsa Verde (green salsa) from Trader Joe’s and we had chicken breast for our protein.

As I was eating the salad last night – I just kept thinking to myself about how intense the flavors were. I’m not usually a huge tomato fan – I have to be in the mood…but they were just so good. The chicken tasted perfectly seasoned (even though we just used regular spices like cumin, red pepper flakes, etc).  The night before – we had steak and roasted sweet potoato and okra. Again – absolutely delicious.

I don’t know if it’s the avoidance of anything processed, or the lack of wheat & all the “fillers” – but I’m enjoying it.

My biggest struggle right now is figuring out some diversity for snacks. I’ve been doing olives, some cheese, and raw nuts lately. I did buy some carrots and this guacamole hummus dip – but then I read that I should avoid soy. So i’ll finish it up this week and not buy that again and figure out another dip option. Learn as you go, right?

Apparently, I can eat raw nuts. I’ve never been a big nut fan – even with all the added seasonings and the roasting or smoking that they offer at the store.  But the one nut I’ve been able to eat before was cashews – so I started with those and bought them in the bulk section of our EarthFare market. I found the “raw” version and gave it a whirl. It’s different without all the added salt and flavorings, but not bad. The more I incorporate it as a little snack (I do about 1-1.5 oz a day since i am trying to lose weight!) the more I find it pretty tasty. So I decided to get raw walnuts this time – and apparently, I like walnuts. They are so buttery all on their own. Weird, huh?

I’m still apprehensive about some of the other nuts but I guess I’ll give them a go throughout this 30 days…maybe i’ll discover I like other ones, too.

Even though it’s Day 3 – I feel like i’m heading in a good direction already. I’m sure I will experience some challenges along the way – but that is par for the course, right?

I’ll be checking in on my weight loss progress in the morning since I’ll be traveling to DC tomorrow night and won’t be around my scale to do so. I guess we’ll see if there are any changes after 4 days. But so far – I feel good and I feel like I’ve got my energy back whereas last week I was dragging a bit on a few days.

So I’m hoping that the more adjusted my body gets to this no wheat thing – the more happy results I see (both on the scale and off the scale!).

How are you doing with your plans for your 30 Day Challenge?

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Easy Curry (Paleo & Wheat-Free Friendly)

Check out my recipe blog here – this is one of our meals for the week if you are looking for a healthy and EASY lunch/dinner option!

 

This weekend I selected a Quick Curry meal to be one of our lunch dishes for the week. It was really simple to make and didn’t take a long time or weird ingredients either. I found this recipe in the book: The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf that I just finished reading.

Here’s what you need (and then below I’ll tell you what I added):

1 lb ground pork (you could use lamb, chicken, turkey, stew beef)
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp curry powder
1 bag baby spinach (14 oz)
1/2 can coconut milk (7 oz)
2-3 cloves garlic

 

I felt like that wasn’t going to be filling enough for lunch – so I sauteed some carrots (bought fresh from the farmer’s market) with a little garlic, cumin & paprika seasoning and added those to the top of the dish. I also added some yellow onion to…

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You’ve Got Questions? I have some answers…

Making a commitment to a new way of eating is a lot to get your mind around.  Today marks Day 1 of my 30 day Food Challenge. And yes, I’m still in the midst of my Summer Push Series as well (completing 3 months of TurboFire workouts) – so this is going to be quite the month!

I’ve gotten a few questions (okay, a lot of questions) both on my blog, facebook and just in “real life” as people learn about what I’m taking on. It’s funny, because you never realize how personal making decisions about what you eat (or don’t eat) can be. I never paid much attention to it before because I wasn’t really in a situation where I tried to avoid specific foods (other than a general attempt to eat healthier foods!). But as I’ve been reading articles, books, blogs, and talking to others who are following a wheat free or Paleo style diet – the variations and levels of dedication are all over the place.  Some people do it for major health reasons (like being allergic or sensitive to ingredients) and others do it to try and just be healthier (like me).

I didn’t expect my harshest critic of this new challenge to be my husband. But he is about 99% questions and 1% enthusiastic about these next 30 days. I can appreciate the questions (some of them), but in the end he just wants me to make him a list of things we’re not eating this month. So if he’s confused, perhaps you guys are, too, so I’ll attempt to make sense of this challenge on my blog, answer your questions and provide resources so you can check out the research and opinions for yourself, too.

I’m still learning as I go here – so I’d like to put it out there that what I’m doing the next 30 days isn’t officially Paleo and it’s probably not a perfect match up with Wheat Free, either. It’s sort of a combo of the two..but it’s important to note that Paleo eaters are ALSO wheat/grain free. But being Wheat Free doesn’t really mean you are Paleo. Does that make sense? A few things before I lay out my foundation for the next 30 days: Just because this is what I’m doing doesn’t mean it’s right for you. And just because you DO eat wheat/grains doesn’t mean I’m judging you for eating it. I’m just trying this out for a while to see how I feel without it. Maybe it will change my life, maybe not. My biggest goal is to lose some weight and feel like I have more energy so some of my choices reflect that end goal for me in the following list.

So – here’s the drill down for my 30 Day Food Challenge

1) Avoid wheat as much as possible (I am not going to NOT buy something that says “processed at a facility that may include soy, wheat, etc.) But this means that we aren’t cooking any recipes that include wheat. If you have questions about why – click on the link above for some good information.

2) Avoidance of most grains actually – so trying to avoid corn based products (because corn is actually a grain – not a vegetable!) and things like rice, too. We are putting these items on the “extreme modification” list. As in, it would be better to have eaten a corn tortilla than a flour one, or, it would be  better to have an ear of corn at a BBQ instead of potato chips but we should do our best to avoid either situation. If you are interested in learning more about rice and how it fits into (or doesn’t) a Paleo lifestyle, this is a good article to check out.

3) Potatoes also go on the extreme modification list. But sweet potatoes can be used because of our level of working out. Paleo athletes often use sweet potatoes as a good recovery snack/meal. Since the hubs & I are very active, I think it’s good to keep this as an option.  Here’s a good article on why I’m choosing to limit our potato consumption.

4) Eat clean food. This means avoiding products that have ingredients that aren’t natural. So – if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t buy it.  Ways to make sure you are doing this? Buy fresh veggies and meat – avoid frozen foods or pre-packaged items as much as possible. I will say that there is a decent amount of pre-packaged items out there that don’t have a bunch of trash ingredients in them. But make sure you flip over the box/wrapper or whatever and check out the ingredients list. A good rule of thumb is that if the ingredients list has more than 5 ingredients – it’s probably not all that natural (unless all the ingredients are “whole” types of food).

5) Avoid foods that are marketed as “low fat” “fat free” “low calorie,” etc. Typically these foods have been stripped of any nutritional value and trash ingredients have been added to fill in the blanks.  A lot of times in place of fat/calories – you’ll find lots of sugar instead which can be just as bad. The idea here is to eat products that are as natural/unprocessed as possible.

Seriously – don’t eat this.

6) Re-evaluate all Dairy Products:  It’s in my nature to opt for the low fat cheeses or fat free sour cream versus the “real stuff.” But again, if we are going for more natural/unprocessed things – you need to buy dairy products in a more natural state. Some good tips for identifying “the good stuff” when it comes to dairy (cheese, yogurts, etc) is here. I even bought some coconut milk creamer for my coffee. Looks at me, I’m all fancy!

I’m sure I’ll be figuring out MORE about all this as I go…but this is the basic list and reasons why for those who have asked (or are secretly wondering WTH I’m doing). Perhaps my husband will read this, too and I’ll kill 2 birds with one stone.

I’d still love to hear more about your ideas for your 30 Day Food Challenge – be creative, this is your time to explore something totally new!

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What’s Your 30 Day Food Challenge?

I am hoping that everyone has been thinking about something they want to change (food-wise) in a positive way over a period of 30 days. As many of my constant readers know, I’ve selected a Food Challenge to follow a more Paleo diet – which includes the exclusion of wheat products and all those junky processed foods.  Many Paleo followers also exclude dairy from their diet – but I’m not going to do that.  I don’t eat a huge amount of dairy anyway – so I’ll just make sure the dairy I do eat is healthy and not processed!

Currently reading….

I have started to read another book called The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf (click on the pic to check out his site). I’m only a few chapters in, but I like the writing style of the author so far – he’s sort of funny, and relate-able. I’m glad that I read a book on the whole no-wheat thing, because it definitely helps me have a better understanding of some of the principles behind eating more Paleo style – it all overlaps and comes together. I still feel like a bit of a novice because there is so much information out there – but I hope as I go through this next month or so, I’ll be learning it as I’m living it and able to share my ups & downs – and hopefully my success with you!

As a brief reminder – Paleo isn’t really a “diet.” It’s more of a way of life – returning to our roots and eating more like our ancestors did – natural, unprocessed food. It doesn’t involve counting calories, which is a big plus for me because I’m really tired of doing that. It encourages you to eat when you are hungry but isn’t forcing food down your throat 6-7 times a day. And while there are some things you aren’t supposed to eat – the reasons behind it make sense to me.

For example, I shouldn’t eat this giant piece of cake from the store because it’s all processed and junk. I can ask myself, WWCD? (What would CaveMan Do) – and if he wouldn’t have had that around to snack on, I should probably think twice about indulging. 🙂

I do believe there is a place for dessert and sweets, so I’ll be exploring ways to still indulge occasionally but I’m placing my bets that it will take a bit more preparation on my end. But like anything else, results are usually so much better when you put the effort into getting there, right?

As I’m wrapping up my first week of really spending time THINKING about the foods I normally eat and making some changes to see if I would die or not – I’m glad to say that not eating wheat hasn’t been THAT big of a deal this week. The biggest change is about what I snack on – and trying to be more aware of the ingredients in products that I buy like are they filled with unpronounceable ingredients? That is a red flag!

Starting next week, I’ll be moving more towards total integration of the Paleo diet – and this will mean a pantry renovation to get rid of products that don’t meet the primal eating standards! And really pushing myself to prepare more healthy snacks for during the day so I don’t ever feel like I’m starving myself – because that is NOT the point of this diet change. And i’ll say – I haven’t felt starved this week – the only times I’ve  been super hungry is when I didn’t plan my day out right and didn’t have time to eat a snack I’d prepared and that’s really my own fault.

Some of you have said you want to do a 30 day Food Challenge but you aren’t sure what you should pick. Here are some ideas for you:

1) Eat more local veggies & fruits (like buying this stuff from a farmer’s market vs canned items or at the grocery store)
2) Eat better meat – this means grass fed vs. grain fed – and try to buy from humanely raised organizations.
3) Maybe you just need to cut out the processed foods in general – too many 100 calories snack packs and breakfast from a box? This might be good for you.
4) Don’t eat out any fast food this month.
5) Cut caffeine out of your diet.
6) Reduce processed sugar in your daily nutrition (this will happen naturally if you do #3)
7) Drink only water!

So maybe these give you some ideas of things you can change up over the next 30 days – and maybe it will change your life. Maybe it will push you outside your comfort zone and you’ll learn something new about yourself. Maybe it will re-set your palate and you’ll discover you enjoy new foods (I’m hoping this will help expand my palate regarding fruit!).

Maybe it will just remind you that you have the power to make positive changes in your life – all you have to do is commit. I’d love to hear your 30 day challenges and how you are doing with them. You don’t have to start next week, or maybe you have already started….either way, I’ll be here for you along the way – whatever you decide. And by default, you’ll be here for me. Gee, thanks! 🙂

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